National Defence mum on Russian threat to shoot down planes in Syria

REUTERS  Kim Hong-Ji

The Russian Defense Ministry said it was also scrapping a Syrian air safety agreement with Washington created to avoid collisions and risky incidents with immediate effect.

"We have taken prudent measures to reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting [Islamic State] forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battle space", Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway said.

Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense committee in Russia's upper house of parliament, said the defense ministry statement does not mean there will be war with the U.S.in Syria, but rather that Moscow will not accept attacks on its Syrian allies.

On Monday, Russia said it would treat all USA and US-led-coalition jets operating in Syria west of the Euphrates River as targets for its air force.

Moscow warned it will view all U.S. coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates River in Syria as "airborne targets" in response to the incident.

When asked whether the US would change its flight patterns as a result, Spicer said the question is more appropriate for the Department of Defense to answer, adding, "but I think obviously, it's important crucially to keep the lines of communications open to deconflict potential issues".

"As a result of the attack, the Syrian aircraft was destroyed", the Russian ministry said Monday, adding that the pilot ejected over an ISIS-controlled area and his status is unknown.

Russian Federation will regard any flights within the area of its air force group's operation in Syria as legitimate targets, the ministry stressed.

United Kingdom hope for Brexit deal like 'no other'
However, EU leaders are also said to be determined not to allow concessions to Britain that might encourage others to quit. The UK wants to begin working out the details of a trade agreement alongside the terms of the withdrawal process.

The moves were the most recent example of an intensifying clash of words and interests between the two powers, which support different sides in the yearslong civil war in Syria.

It said that "pro-Syrian regime forces" had earlier attacked an SDF-held town south of Tabqa and wounded a number of fighters, driving them from the town.

Felgenhauer added that this happened various times before the latest incident when U.S. planes came close to Russian bases in Syria.

"Russia's defence ministry does not say that they would target American planes with weapons".

It said the shooting down of the plane was "collective self-defence" and the coalition had contacted Russian counterparts by telephone via an established "de-confliction line to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing".

US forces tangled earlier this month with Syria-allied aircraft in the region.

Areas of Syria west of the Euphrates were recently captured by Syrian government forces from the Islamic State. The Syrian government maintains the jet was operating against terrorists.

The U.S. military has shot down a Syrian Air Force fighter jet that bombed local forces aligned with the Americans in the fight against Islamic State militants.

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